Studying to start a career in humanitarian aid: Cecilia’s story
Cecilia wants a career helping people, so she’s studying a Bachelor of Humanitarian and Community Studies at CDU. After travelling for a while and spending some time working with children, she’s upped the ante and is completing her degree so she’s prepared to work with refugees and special migrants. Read on to find out how she’s finding the course, getting job-ready and managing her studies.
I’ve always known I wanted to help people. I've found my calling.
Why did you choose to study Humanitarian and Community studies?
I’ve always known I wanted to help people, so when I found the Bachelor of Humanitarian and Community Studies on CDU’s website, I knew I’d found my calling. I love Darwin and a friend told me that CDU is a great university.
I’m studying on campus, but because the course is also available online, I listen to a lot of my lectures and interact with my peers online. It’s great to have the flexibility and opportunity to learn alongside students who are in other parts of Australia.
How would you describe your experience of the course so far?
It’s a completely new field for me – and it’s been extremely interesting and mentally stimulating, especially as English isn’t my first language.
The best part has been studying with people from all over the world. My fellow students and lecturers all have different knowledge, skills and experiences – everybody sees the world and reacts so differently! I’m learning a lot about accepting differences and recognising that my point of view isn’t always right, which is particularly relevant and important in the humanitarian aid and community services sector.
It’s a completely new field for me – and it’s been extremely interesting and mentally stimulating.
How do you think the course is preparing you for a job in the sector?
I'm learning how to work in a culturally sensitive way with people in different settings and communities (for example, in a flood or civil war) and with different response agencies (for example, those that supply food, health and logistics support).
While we’ve done a lot of theory work in psychology, sociology, ethics and community engagement (to name a few), the course is also hands-on and includes simulation and scenario training. This has taught me about the techniques and skills that are used by aid and community workers in real-life situations. I’ve learned how to assess the needs of people in distress, access different aid services, build a tent and plan a refugee camp site (and where to locate sanitations, shops, hospitals and schools).
I’m confident these skills will come in handy when I’m applying for jobs. I’d like to follow in the footsteps of past CDU students who are working for organisations like the Red Cross, in Australia and overseas.
I’m confident these skills will come in handy when I’m applying for jobs.
What’s the highlight of your course?
Studying is about so much more than the course content. Learning from my peers’ experiences has been a highlight. We have people in class who have lived through traumatic experiences, war, emergencies and disasters. Coming from Sweden, I haven’t personally experienced this, so it’s helping me to understand how to work with people in need of aid.
What are your tips for getting the most out of your studies?
Make the most of the lecturers and course coordinator. They have years of experience in the industry and in helping students succeed. Listen when they talk about their work experiences in class – it helps to make sense of the discussions and problems.
And use the library! The library staff are there to help and can offer all sorts of advice for writing essays, finding information and referencing.
The lecturers have years of experience in the industry and in helping students succeed.
Want to be part of an industry that's helping people in need across the world? Study your way to success with a course in Humanitarian, Emergency and Disaster Management at CDU. You'll learn from industry experts, examine real-life case studies, and benefit from close connections with government, NGOs and leading aid agencies. Explore our courses.